Bengals vs. Titans: 14 Things We Learned from Cincinnati's 24-17 Win
On both accounts, the mission was accomplished—albeit while missing Rey Maualuga and Jermaine Gresham for the second-straight week.
Andy Dalton turned in his finest performance yet and the team continued the momentum leading into the heart of the season.
Here is what we learned about the Bengals in Week 9...
Andy Dalton Is the Future
Going 22 for 39 with 217 yards for three passing touchdowns to three different receivers behind a line that only allowed a single sack (second week in a row) certainly shows a strong offensive unit.
Andy Dalton excelled and put another four quarters together in the same game as he continues to improve like a fine wine in no time flat.
Rumors of arm strength lacking and general lack of depth have gone to the wayside as Dalton emerges victorious week after week.
A.J. Green Does Not Need to Score to Help the Bengals Win
Though A.J. did not add to his receiving touchdown total, he certainly made plays when it counted, accumulating 83 yards and catching every pass thrown his way (seven in all).
Two pivotal plays were one that resulted in a catch to make a first down and the other to create a long gain by drawing a pass interference call on a wayward defender.
Green is far beyond where OchoCinco left off or even every was.
Carlos Dunlap's Sack Attack Is Back
Carlos Dunlap came off the prior week having established his first sack and naturally leaving those around him wondering when he would add more.
The answer came in the teams only two sacks on the Titan's Matt Hasselbeck to go along with three tackles, one assisted tackle, one pass defensed, two tackles for losses, and two quarterback hits.
Apparently Dunlap is wasting no more time and opposing quarterbacks should beware.
Offense Is Catching Up to Defense...
Defense held but offense certainly was more potent—as usual—but the offense was led through a solid four quarter performance of diversity.
Options were a plenty and the momentum only continued to build with more and more production on the offensive side of the ball.
...Though Running Game Still Suffering...
Yet despite facing the Titans 24th ranked defense—which averages 126.8 rushing yards per game given up—the Bengals could only muster 109 yards as the run simply is not developing.
...Yet Run Attack Showed a Pulse.
Even so, Benson broke a few good medium distance runs. Scott add a couple of gains, Leonard showed up when needed–late for short yardage.
Third Downs Are Converted
Remember that problem converting on third down? Gone.
The Bengals continued improving going eight for 16 (50 percent) on third down conversions.
Bengals Have Depth...
The Bengals are clearly a deep team this year.
Despite missing their defensive quarterback in Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker and star tight end Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals did not miss a beat on either side of the ball.
Add in the still absent outside linebacker Keith Rivers, nickel package cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, and the out for the season slot receiver Jordan Shipley, it is very clear how deep this Cincinnati team truly is.
...With the Defense Is Playing Zimmer Ball: All Four Quarters...
The defense is playing hard throughout the game just like 2009. The entire unit is making plays on the ball and adjusting to changes.
Enduring the entire game while the offense takes over on the field, shows the persistent performance of a Mike Zimmer defense.
...Though the Defense Had Issue with Air and Ground Attacks in First Half.
Even though the defense was more than present for the entire game, the first half clearly had the Bengals' D off-balance as the Titans' alternating run and pass offense racked up 17 points, which included two passing touchdowns.
Receiving Core Continued to Fly...
The receiving core showed its diversity with three different catch artists hauling in touchdowns.
...Along with the Bengals Having Many Options at Tight End.
Colin Cochart and David Lee continue to fill in for Jermaine Gresham nicely as Cochart was one of the benefactors of the aerial touchdown act.
Discpline on the Line: Penalties to Plentiful at the Wrong Time
Holding was a problem for the Bengals. Jerome Simpson, Bobbie Williams, Andre Smith, and Nate Livings all were called for grabs.
Formation and anxiousness were called when Livings also had a false start in the first quarter as well as A.J. Green added to his issues with a call as well.
Geno Atkins showed a lack of discipline running into the passer to help keep a late Titans drive alive.
Frostee Rucker had a low block called on him and Thomas Howard got dinged for a 15 yard pass interference call.
Nine penalties and 87 yards.
Even though the Titans had more yards (100) on less penalties (seven), this is a very big problem that needs to be addressed if the Bengals want to make a deep run.
Conclusions: The Summit and Steelers Await
The Bengals have improved their game management on offense. The defense is adjusting and staying strong throughout the game.
The offensive line needs to improve on the discipline side.
The rush may need to try a card from last season and bring in Peko to bolster the running offense.
Next week the Steelers come to town and Bengals Nation will find out how good these cats really are.